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New Year’s Intention: A Mindful Heart

Published by Susan Gillis Chapman on

20121221_170103   2013 dawned in Vancouver as a foggy morning that gradually dissolved into brilliant sunshine.  After weeks of rain,  people were smiling,  practically dancing in the streets.  I remembered a poem that friend gave me, the image of a mountain enshrouded in mist that slowly becomes clearer as the sun penetrates.  It was about arousing the courage to be who we are in spite of the confusion and mindlessness in our lives.  So, at this time of New Year’s resolution, I’m re-setting the intention to wake up.  To be more mindful, but also more heartful.

The intention to be mindful needs the support of a compassionate heart because most of the time what we wake up to is our fogginess. This is especially true when it comes to mindful communication, since all our conversations  mirror back our state of mind. It takes courage to wake up and realize how easily the habit of mindlessness– or heartlessness– has tiptoed in ‘on little cat feet’.   This happened to me recently at a family gathering when the topic of discussion slid dangerously into the sphere of politics.  Before I know it I’d launched into an old familiar pattern with my cousin, Kathleen, freezing the discussion with my toxic certainty.  A surge of righteous anger made me feel strong and clear,  holding my ground with impeccable logic.  But then my intention to be mindful suddenly woke me up, like the flash of a ‘red light’.   It was a painful moment of clarity.  My argument fell apart and I found myself on the see-saw of one-upsmanship, building my case for  ‘I’m right and you’re wrong.’ I had turned my cousin into an object.   “Who am I trying to crush? “ I saw the look in Kathleen’s face as she struggled to defend herself and her political beliefs.  A new script ran through my mind “I don’t want to hurt her.  I don’t want to insult her.  Why am I doing this?”

Making an intention to be mindful is like setting an alarm clock to wake us up.  I could have celebrated that moment of wakefulness as a victory over harmful speech, but instead I felt overcome with remorse.  When the fog lifts and the sun shines, sometimes the clarity alone is too harsh.  This is why we need the warmth of heartfulness along with our mindful awakenings.  The warmth of heartfulness allows us to feel the sadness without freezing up again into self-blame.  Simply feel the pain, the sadness and surround it with acceptance.  Just keep it simple.  This how to move into the green light of openness.

When you set the intention to be more mindful and heartful in communicating with others, you learn just as much from failure as you do from success.  Maybe more.  Whether you wake up in the middle of a conversation or two weeks later, if you can surround the sadness with warmth and friendliness, then the pain of having disconnected from another human being is our teacher.  That pain shows us the nature of our heart– that we are hard-wired for relationship, for caring about each other and for we-first communication.  Then our alarm clock is re-set and chances are we’ll wake up more easily next time.

So for those of you who are making the New Year’s resolution to be more mindful and heartful in your relationships, please be gentle with yourselves in those awakenings.  The fog will soon burn off and when it does, it’s a beautiful sunny day.

Blessings to all for this new year.  May it bring peace.


Susan Gillis Chapman

teaches part time for Green Zone Institute and for Karuna Training. Susan is a retired Marital and Family therapist who has been practicing mindfulness meditation for over 35 years.  She is the author of the book The Five Keys To Mindful Communication and a contributor to The Mindful Revolution, edited by Barry Boyce. Her website is: http://www.susangillischapman.com. Read more about Susan here.